Adaptive sharing for online social networks: a trade-off between privacy risk and social benefit

Yang, Mu; Yu, Yijun; Bandara, Arosha and Nuseibeh, Bashar (2014). Adaptive sharing for online social networks: a trade-off between privacy risk and social benefit. In: 13th IEEE International Conference on Trust, Security and Privacy in Computing and Communications (IEEE TrustCom-14), 24-26 Sep 2014, Beijing, China, IEEE, pp. 45–52.



Online social networks such as Facebook allow users to control which friend sees what information, but it can be a laborious process for users to specify every receiver for each piece of information they share. Therefore, users usually group their friends into social circles, and select the most appropriate social circle to share particular information with. However, social circles are not formed for setting privacy policies, and even the most appropriate social circle still cannot adapt to the changes of users’ privacy requirements influenced by the changes in context. This problem drives the need for better privacy control which can adaptively filter the members in a selected social circle to satisfy users’ requirements while maintaining users’ social needs. To enable such adaptive sharing, this paper proposes a utility-based trade-off framework that models users’ concerns (i.e. potential privacy risks) and incentives of sharing (i.e. potential social benefits), and quantifies users’ requirements as a trade- off between these two types of utilities. By balancing these two metrics, our framework suggests a subset of a selected circle that aims to maximise users’ overall utility of sharing. Numerical simulation results compare the outcome of three sharing strategies in randomly changing contexts.

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